Archive for Monday, November 9, 2009

City hopes to get grant money to make safer path between KU campus and downtown

Grant would help create well-lighted route between KU campus, downtown

A KU student walks down 12th Street near Ohio Street, Monday, Nov. 9.  The city is seeking $150,000 in grant money to build a new sidewalk and add lighting to this area in the Oread Neighborhood, where more than a dozen late-night robberies and attacks have occurred this year.

A KU student walks down 12th Street near Ohio Street, Monday, Nov. 9. The city is seeking $150,000 in grant money to build a new sidewalk and add lighting to this area in the Oread Neighborhood, where more than a dozen late-night robberies and attacks have occurred this year.

November 9, 2009


City to consider lighting improvement

A plan to add another sidewalk and street lights to the area between KU's campus and downtown Lawrence is in the works. The project would require $150,000, which will be brought before the city commission during Tuesday's meeting. Enlarge video

City engineers think if they can secure a $150,000 grant that they can address safety concerns about paths between Kansas University and downtown.

Engineers in the city’s Public Works Department have unveiled a proposal to install a new sidewalk and street lights between the area near South Park in downtown and the 12th and Louisiana area on the KU campus.

“If we could get the grant, I would anticipate construction could be in the summer of 2010,” said Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant public works director.

The project has a decent chance of winning the grant money. The grant would come from the city’s share of the federal Community Development Block Grant program. The city automatically receives an allocation of CDBG money each year from the federal government, with the next round of funding expected to be about $800,000. A city committee then accepts grant applications from across the community, and ultimately city commissioners decide which projects should be funded.

The area between KU and downtown through the Oread neighborhood has been the subject of safety concerns after several students have been robbed or attacked over the last year.

Thiel thinks it will take about $350,000 to build a new sidewalk and install lighting in the area. He said preliminary talks have led the city to believe that KU may contribute about $150,000 to the project.

What hasn’t been determined is an exact route for the new lighted corridor. Thiel said his department is studying an option that would take a new sidewalk up 12th Street from Vermont Street to Louisiana Street. Another option had been to build a new sidewalk on Louisiana Street between 11th and 12th streets, and then along 11th Street to Kentucky Street.

But Thiel said there may be problems building the sidewalk and lighting along that path in a way that would fit in with the historic character of the area, and students may not use that path as much as a direct route along 12th Street.

The city will be accepting grant applications through Dec. 1 for other projects that want to use CDBG money, said Margene Swarts, assistant director of the city’s development services division. City commissioners likely will be presented in May with recommendations on which projects to fund, she said.

The city’s Public Works Department also plans to submit at least two more projects to be considered for CDBG funding, Thiel said. They are:

• A new sidewalk program that would spend $100,000 to repair sidewalks for low-income homeowners who can’t afford to do so. State law makes it the responsibility of homeowners to maintain public sidewalks that run along their property. But several sidewalks have gone unrepaired in Lawrence because homeowners have said they don’t have the financial means to make the repairs, Thiel said.

The new program would allow the city to make the repairs for the homeowners, if they meet certain financial guidelines. As currently proposed, homeowners would need to be at or below 80 percent of median family income for the area, which currently would mean a family of four would need to earn less than $54,800.

• A project to repave East 13th Street from Connecticut Street to Haskell Avenue. The project also would include curb repair and replacement of the sidewalk. The department plans to seek $150,000 in CDBG funding for the project.

City commissioners are scheduled to receive a memo on the projects at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


Leslie Swearingen 8 years ago

Sounds like a good idea to me. KU has students from all over the world. Surely we don't want to give the impression that Oread is a slum, okay so some of it is. But others parts have been vastly improved. Sidewalks are not optional.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

If the city thinks they have million upon millions of taxpayer dollars to blow on Oread Lab real estate and the contaminated fertilizer property why can't the city come up with $150,000 to make the city safer for OUR number one economic generator aka students?

Plus create a "8 ft pedestrian/cyclist exercise pathway" on both Tennessee and Kentucky. From 7th street to 19th street on the east side of each street. The right of way is there.

Students create mucho jobs and mucho tax dollars for Lawrence,Kansas which makes it OKAY to invest in their safety.

Face it.... if KU students decided to participate in the voting process they could control Lawrence,Kansas and why not?

kusp8 8 years ago

I could care less about the impression we give. I just want it to be safe.

hujiko 8 years ago

Why dont they just replace all sidewalks with the kind from music video for Billie Jean? Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Matt Warman 8 years ago

There is no such thing as free money

Sigmund 8 years ago

It is all about getting students to downtown cash registers, they could care less about safety. I thought that was what the empTy was for, bring good little consumers to the downtown merchants. Another waste of taxpayer money on corporate welfare for the downtown merchants.

ack 8 years ago

I would think 13th street to Mass St. would be the logical solution .How about old fashion street lamps with hi rez lights for w/no glare features. Also strategically placed 'code blue' emergency phones.

workinghard 8 years ago

I could be wrong but isn't 11th street the one that has traffic signals? Wouldn't it make more sense to have them crossing Kentucky and Tennessee using traffic signals?

BigPrune 8 years ago

Wouldn't it be COOL if Lawrence had a gondola lift from KU to the downtown, or maybe to north Lawrence that could be seen from I-70? People could take an 1800's barge from Burcham Park, crossing the river to the north to get on the gondola. They could take a scenic aerial tour of Old West Lawrence and maybe part of the downtown as they made their way up the hill and over KU, disembarking at an expanded and updated Natural History museum, or some other place.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Give out machetes to the students at the start of the semester.

Kris_H 8 years ago

Who's going to scrape the snow and ice off it in the winter? Or maybe a ski lift/gondola would be a good idea. Sure would have helped me trying to get up that hill in the winter when I was a student...

9070811 8 years ago

sig: Did you mean that the city doesn't care about safety or that students don't care about safety?

If you meant the city, I feel you are mistaken. The city wants & needs students to attend KU. Students do look into city & campus safety upon choosing a university. Low safety standards = a bad reputation = enrollment issues. That said, it does cover your point that the city wants students to spend money downtown. Because it would allow safer travel to the downtown area. Hitting two points with one fix.

I doubt you meant students, cause not many people want to be attacked, robbed or sexually assulted.

It would be awfully nice to have a much more lit pathways with stable,wider sidewalks (granted up space) to & from campus. Its often what stops me from walking home. The 11 bus stops running at 7:23. Last night I called a friend to 'rescue' me. Laugh if you wish :).
With the right light poles the project could turn out beautifully. Perhaps the metal old style. Typing on phone, too much effort to look those up, but I think they're the kind downtown. Please correct me if I am wrong.

It would extend the beauty of campus which ends when the hill drops east & becomes the student ghetto. Maybe it would have a chain effect into the student ghetto?

grimpeur 8 years ago

Hard to fill up buses when lazy people think driving less than a mile in their empTy cars is a good idea.

"Hey, let's start a bus system!" "Hey, great idea. Let's build a garage to add another 500 parking spaces (at $15K/space) to the already plentiful downtown while we're at it!" "Hey, let's jack the sales tax to pay for the damage to the streets from everybody driving their empTy cars alone, but whatever we do, let's raise the price of milk so that those who choose to walk pay for the lifestyle choices or oversized status-mobiles of the driving stupid."

Bladerunner 8 years ago

If you build it, they will......still walk in the alleys where they are easier prey for muggers and creeps.

Mel Briscoe 8 years ago

great idea-- i hope it gets done.

TheOriginalCA 8 years ago

Yes, let the tax payers pay for a pedestrian freeway into downtown Lawrence. Let's also build the East Lawrence Traffic way right smack dab into downtown Lawrence. ALL of which The Downtown Lawrence A$$ociation won't contribute a dime towards. Let's let the tax payers pay for the business infrastructure for private business. When DIllons and Wal-Mart build new stores, the city requires them to fund the traffic infrastructure before they build. I realize that Downtown Lawrence has been here about 150 years, but if this is to benefit downtown Lawrence businesses, then they should help to cover the cost. Safety? blah blah blah blah... if the city did not turn their backs on the way downtown Lawrence businesses target risky people, then maybe this safe side walk would not be needed. The sidewalk is needed.. I admit, but to downtown merchants, it is about increased people traffic and not safety.

9070811 8 years ago

Actually, because so many students live on the west side of hill & so forth, it is perfectly appropriate to move forward with this project. Many students also live just east of Mass, so thus the new walkways also benefit those students. It isn't all about downtown, though it would get a few benefits. I doubt it would really see that much of an increase. But its still part of anticipated benefits to students, campus attraction and the look of the student ghetto.

alm77 8 years ago

ack, I second the blue boxes. These kids are trying to be more responsible by not drinking and driving on the late nights/weekends. I say they deserve a safe route home.

jc1221_tks 8 years ago

when did mark thiel become a city engineer? when he was in topeka, he might have done some construction inspection, but certainly no engineering. interesting. good luck to ku to get grant funding though.

livetocook 8 years ago

Where is MultiD tonight? Is he still BH from the other night? Thought he would be here tonight :(

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